Up in the Air
Pilot Glenn Graham in front of his Rebel 300 stunt plane.

A veteran stunt pilot who has been flying for more than 20 years says he still gets butterflies before every airborne show.

“If you’re not somewhat nervous before every display, then you’ve become complacent,” Paul Bennet Airshow pilot Glenn Graham said.

“We operate under extreme G-forces that will exceed nine times the force of gravity, at very low altitudes. We must practice regularly to keep our G-tolerance up and our hand-eye coordination sharp because at this altitude, you can’t afford to have a bad day.”

Graham and his incredibly agile Rebel 300 aircraft will be among the stars of Sunday’s (23 May) inaugural Up in the Air Festival at Rathmines Park, pushing his machine to its limits above Lake Macquarie.

“It really is a rocket-ship,” he said.

“The Rebel has a fantastic power-to-weight ratio. It’s powered by a 330-horsepower, six-cylinder engine, but has an empty weight of only 525kg.

“So you can expect to see manoeuvres that really defy the laws of physics and see things that people believe are impossible by an aeroplane, like flying backwards.”

Up in the Air will also feature aerobatic displays by a WWII-era Grumman Avenger, a T-28 Trojan and a Pitts Special biplane.

Graham said he was looking forward to “expressing myself in three dimensions and becoming one with the machine”.

“It’s a lot like dancing, only faster,” he said.

“Expect plenty of smoke, noise and speed.”

The festival also includes classic car displays, live music, roving entertainment, smart science interactive shows for kids, magic shows and market stalls.

Entry is $8, and free for children aged 15 and under.

Go to lakemac.com.au/upintheair for more information and tickets.

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